New Orleans has a festival problem. Within a brief time period in late April-Early May, French Quarter Fest and the two weekends of the monolithic Jazzfest are stacked up against one another. (And this all coming about two months after the Big Kahuna of Mardi Gras). This means that we New Orleans residents must once again sally forth to listen to music, eat inordinate quantities of food, and deep-fry ourselves in the ever-hotter late spring sun in the pursuit of a good time. You should feel really damn sorry for us.
French Quarter Fest takes place, not surprisingly, all over the Quarter, featuring mostly-local bands on a whole bunch of stages interspersed throughout the area. Besides the music, there's also tons of food vendors selling everything from po-boys to banh mi to African food, as well as cultural learning events and eating contests - I just missed the oyster eating contest and am still regretful. Perhaps watching what happens to someone who eats 100 oysters is a learning experience in and of itself, I cannot tell you.
I DID manage to wander around, listen to some good ragtime, jazz, and Cajun music, as well as get up next to my bon ami, my beloved, crawfish. Let me explain to you why I love crawfish so. I love Interactive Food. I define this as food that requires an inordinate amount of work for little gain - crab, Cornish game hens, lobster bits, Chinese duck, and so forth. If it has tons of little complex bones or requires special implements to eat it, I'm there.
Therefore I love crawfish, which require perhaps the most pain in the ass effort for the smallest caloric benefit of any food out there. And they really do taste delicious if done right: delicately flavored and plump tails, vying for attention with the yellow, fatty, and divine goo that lies within the crawdad's head. If you do not suck the heads, you are an infidel, or at least missing out. I do not "suck" the heads per-se, I instead dig out the goo within the heads, but the final result is the same. These were Rouse's supermarket brand crawfish and I though they were pretty good - and at seven bucks for well over a pound of big juicy ones, in addition to corn and sausage, well, not such a bad deal at all.
After the crawfish feast, I ran into my wonderful relatives from Kentucky quite randomly on Bourbon Street. I had been planning to meet them later in the evening anyway to attend my cousin's wedding party at Muriel's on Jackson Square, and it was great to run into em' all ahead of time.
Muriel's did a great job with the party. We had what Muriel's called Heavy Appetizers, which sounds somewhat dirty (well to me anyway oh don't judge me) but turned out quite delicious.
We had a cheese and fruit and pate platter.....
And an honest to god Seafood Pirouge with big old shrimp and big old oysters. Someone needs to do a sociological study of why food in boats tastes better - sushi boats, seafood pirouges, whatever. You could probably relate it to Freud and make a ton of money by evoking people's childhoods/water phobias. Just trying to give y'all good ideas.
And a whole bunch of desserts including some incredibly reputable chocolate covered strawberries...
As well as sliced prime rib with horseradish and mustard, fried turkey breast (nicely prepared), jambalaya, roasted vegetables, and various passed around snacks including coconut shrimp, prosciutto and asparagus, and some excellent crab cakes. We were upstairs in a big open space with a view of the French Quarter Fest crowds - we also, of course, had an open bar with plenty of good bourbon. We DO have Kentucky roots for God's sake, otherwise would be sacrilege, so forth and so on. Lovely evening and a lovely way to catch up with my family - I'd recommend Muriel's special events set up anytim
The restaurant is also reputed to be haunted like every other goddamn establishment in this ghost besot-city, which means you may freak out everyone else in the party by saying quietly, "Did you SEE that?" My cousin Jennifer scared the sweet Jesus out of some random gentlemen on the street - he was taking a Ghost Tour, was instructed to look in the window at Muriel's - whereupon my cousin ran to the window and yelled BOO. Bro jumped about six and a half feet and spilled his Hurricane. We're still laughing.